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The Danites seek new land
When we examine Judges from a literary perspective, we discover that chapters 1 through 16 contain the history of the period from 1385 B.C. down to approximately 1050 B.C. and the 335 year period describes their leadership during their limited opposition to the opposing nations. Chapters 17 and 18 describe the essential reason for the difficulties which the nation of Israel had brought upon itself as we read the examples of idol worship which had become so prevalent as the period progressed. The focus here is also on the tribe of Dan which, having been driven from the location that God had given them because of their disobedience, sought an alternative place to settle (Judges 18:1) having lost some of their inheritance to the Philistines, while much of their land had been absorbed by Ephraim, Benjamin, and Judah. In an effort to find a permanent inheritance and location, the Danites sent five men to spy out the entire land. Verse 7 tells us that they came to a place far north beyond the Sea of Galilee, approximately 125 miles away. The inhabitants were a quiet people, secure and without a ruler oppressing and humiliating them and, far from the Zidonians, they had no dealings with anyone. According to the Military Manual these people fell into the category of Acities afar off,@ and it was the principle given to Joshua by God that the Danites should have gone to this city and proclaimed peace to it and given the inhabitants an opportunity to surrender and to serve them. However, the evil Danites determined ahead of time that they would go in and possess the land. According to verses 27 & 28:
They. . . came unto Laish, unto a people that were quiet and secure: and they smote them with the edge of the sword, and burnt the city with fire. And there was no deliverer, because it was far from Zidon, and they had no business with any man.
This act of disobedience caused the tribe of Dan to become positioned far north of the Sea of Galilee where they became confirmed idol worshippers. We know they loved idols because years later, under the reign of Jeroboam I (1 Kings 12:28-29), one of the two golden calves that was set up in the northern kingdom was located in the territory of Dan. An examination of the twelve tribes which will be sealed during the tribulation period, recorded in Revelation 7, reveals that the tribe of Dan is missing. Some commentators argue that the Danites fell into such dishonour during the Old Testament period and, because of their idolatry and ungodly activities (Leviticus 24:11; Judges 18:1-2, 30-31; 1 Kings 12:28), God therefore refuses to acknowledge them, along with Ephraim, in the accounting of the tribes in Revelation 7. The same reason is often given for the omission of Ephraim. It has been suggested further that the antichrist may come from this tribe and that this accounts for its omission from this list (cf. Genesis 49:17; Jeremiah 8:16). Other commentators argue that, whatever the reason for Dan's omission from the tribes from which 144,000 elect will come, this is not the end of God's dealings with that tribe and they will receive a portion of the land during the millennial kingdom. Indeed, they point out Ezekiel 48:1 where Dan heads the list of the tribes as the inheritance is divided to them (cf. also v. 32). So they conclude that the exclusion of Revelation is not permanent, for the gifts and calling of God with regard to his people, including Dan are without repentance.12
Whereas Appendix I (chapters 17-18) gave us a picture of the spread of idolatry and of its corrupting influence on the tribe of Dan, Appendix II (chapters 19 through 21) presents additional insight into the corruption and moral decadence which became prevalent during the years covered by the book of Judges. It is a depressing story of sodomy and homosexuality and the period is summed up by the statement in Judges 21:25, which closes the book by saying: "In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did that which was right in his own eyes."
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